Do Protestant churches handle dating and sex issues better than Catholic parishes?


#1

[quote="PraizThinkr, post:8, topic:198687"]
But the hookup culture isn't the main point of the article. The latter 2/3 of the article is about how Catholic schools have dropped the ball in terms of providing honest dialogue about sexual issues, because to allow such programs, in the mind of the school administration and the Catholic Church, is to sanction premarital sex.

Isn't this another indictment against the Catholic Church? Isn't this more ammunition in favor of the argument that the Catholic Church does not modernize along with the times? Merely teaching that premarital sex is wrong, and don't be gay, is not enough for today's youth. There is so much more to cover on how to deal with the broader culture. Like I said in my other "dateless" thread, in today's culture, if you are not sexually active, you are a loser and there's something wrong with you.

Protestant churches have honest dialogues about dating and sex. There are several Protestant dating books, several Protestant dating sermons and seminars, and the article admits that there is very little in the Catholic arena....

(The article cites Joshua Harris. But that book was so 2000. Like I said in my other thread, Protestant churches largely do not agree with that book anymore, and the book's Biblical citations have been challenged by reviewers on Amazon.)

Theology of the Body is relevant for married couples, but what about the youth?

Maybe I did come to the wrong place when I posted my "dateless" single thread :shrug:

[/quote]

This was posted in The Hook Up Culture thread, and people couldn't respond without derailing the thread. So I'm starting a new thread.


#2

Someone hasn't looked very hard if they can't find high quality materials on sexuality for Catholic youth.


#3

I don’t know if I can really respond to this thread because I’ve never gone through a Catholic youth program myself.

However, I have to say I do think that having celibate clergy and religous can actually help. I’m starting to think that a priest or religous can help young single people develop a healthy understanding of chastity and their own sexuality far better than a married person can.


#4

I went to Catholic high school and college, and I found that we were able to have frank discussions about premarital sex and the theology of the body at both schools.

In high school, we had a morality unit each year in our theology class and addressed hot-button issues. Jason Evert came and gave a talk when I was a sophomore.

In college there were many opportunities to talk about the “hook-up culture,” its failings, and how Catholic teaching provides a holistic, hope-filled answer for single young adults. There were several different groups and classes that studied the theology of the body, and I could not disagree MORE that it is “only for married people”!

There are plenty of Catholic resources about chastity and vocations, geared towards young people. JP2 wrote a lot about this and some of his sermons from WYD and other occasions with young people are available online; B16 has given some beautiful messages about chaste love and vocations to young people as well. Christopher West, Jason Evert, Mary Beth Bonacci and others all have youth-oriented versions of the central messages of Catholic teaching in these areas.

I have to admit that I have not done too much investigating of Protestant resources for youth about sex, but what I have read has been of the “I kissed dating goodbye” ilk. Orthodox Catholic resources are solid in their morality but I found them more accessible, as they didn’t come off as so, erm, prudishly extreme as those resources can tend to be. Don’t get me wrong, I think serial dating among high school students provides an occasion for sin, but I think there are some better arguments that can be made against it than the typical Protestant chastity pledge + I saved my first kiss for the altar-type literature.

Chastity is important, it is a virtue for every baptized person, and the great thing about being Catholic is that we don’t need to make impressive or extreme commitments (ala “NO dating and NO kissing before the wedding day!”) in order to live chastely. We train ourselves each day to live chastely and to love appropriately according to our vocations in life–and when we fail, we go to Confession and resolve to sin no more.


#5

From my experiences reading Protestant resources and interacting with Protestant communities – the answer is no.

As Catholic, we have clear knowledge of what’s moral and what’s immoral. Despite the arguing on this forum, we even have a pretty good idea of the vocations and states of life that are appropriate for a Catholic (single discernment, a life committed to service, marriage and family, the priesthood, religious life, consecrated virginity…), as well as the difference in men’s and women’s roles. When Catholics talk about dating and marriage, we have a strong conceptual framework for the discussion, and things are enlightening.

Contrast this to the Protestant world, where things are all over the place. On one side of the debates, you run into the masturbation-is-healthy crowd, couples living together, and the general idea that the dating world is off-limits to religion. On the other side of the spectrum, there’s a huge push for hyper-intentional, kissed-dating-goodbye courtships, where a 45-year-old woman still has a solemn moral obligation to obtain permission from her father before going on a date (not an exaggeration; this idea is widespread among highly devout non-denominationals) and couples must never be alone together before marriage.

The conservative camp seems to be causing the most trouble in Protestant young adult/singles communities, because the massive risk of dating causes men to become paralyzed in a way that prevents them from initiating relationships. When relationships do fail, the breakup of the couple ends up tearing rifts in established communities, because the dating relationship was given far too much importance by the couple’s friends and acquaintanceship.

Consider all sorts of other awkward outcomes that Catholics seem to avoid (the pastor’s wife, spouses who want to be full-time foreign missionaries, being censured by the church elders…), and our Catholic world of relationships begins looking downright simple. Because we already understand the purpose of sex and the meaning of marriage, the vast majority of us are able to get by without inventing more layers of social structures and more “rules”.


#6

This is exactly what I have noticed. What I think is worse is that these “extreme” resources also invent a bunch of rules for how “courtship” is supposed to happen.

As Catholics, because the purpose of dating and marriage is clearer to us, we don’t feel the need to make up more rules.

I have seen that many (most?) Protestants reject these extreme positions, but usually for the wrong reasons – many reject the ideas because they don’t want anyone telling them what to do, period. Consequentiality, the relationships of these Christians are no different than secular ones.


#7

“If You Really Loved Me: 100 Questions on Dating, Relationships, and Sexual Purity” by Jason Evert is a great book. It is geared toward teens but I even found it useful as a 24 year old man.

I will say that these important issues were never addressed when I was in CCD during high school. I didn’t even know the church’s teaching on contraception until I went to college and began studying the faith myself. I once talked to my priest about the fact that it would be a really good idea to address these issues with the students, his response was that the subject matter was too advanced for 17 year old kids. Well, I can only speak for myself but at the age of 17 I was already aware of what the most common sexual positions were let alone what sex (gasp!) was. I had seen my fair share of porn by that time. It is terribly easy to access that stuff with the internet, even though my parents thought they could track what I was doing online, they were no match for someone who had been using computers since 2nd or 3rd grade! And they were too scared to teach us about contraception… what a joke! Knowledge of the Church’s teaching on sex is empowering and I really think it could prevent young Catholics from making regrettable decisions. Especially if it helps young men see women as something more than an object to be used for sexual gratification. Just my opinion.


#8

About 5 minutes away from my house they just finished building this awesome retreat center which is a "theology of the body" center. They teach classes to teens, engaged couples, educators, and married people in general. They have a class almost every night of the week. I think this is great and wish this had been available when I was in RCIA, but then again my mind was not open to those teachings at that time. But anyhow, I am sure this is not an isolated thing, there must be more of those centers. They teach religious educators how to have theology of the body classes at their own parish also.


#9

In my experience, evangelics handle it the best. Well, it depends on what you mean by handle. Maybe they do not give the best theology or practical reasons, but certainly there is something they say that keeps their kids away from the usual teenage sexual antics. My evangelical friends are 21 and have yet to kiss their long term girlfriends, have yet to even sip alcohol. My Catholic friends not so much. In my own life I have had to seriously soul search (and catholic answers search) in order to get my theology of the body down. If I'd have known back when I was 13 what I known now, I would have saved myself a lot of heartache, sin and embarassment in confession.


#10

[quote="ack, post:5, topic:199378"]
From my experiences reading Protestant resources and interacting with Protestant communities -- the answer is no.

As Catholic, we have clear knowledge of what's moral and what's immoral. Despite the arguing on this forum, we even have a pretty good idea of the vocations and states of life that are appropriate for a Catholic (single discernment, a life committed to service, marriage and family, the priesthood, religious life, consecrated virginity...), as well as the difference in men's and women's roles. When Catholics talk about dating and marriage, we have a strong conceptual framework for the discussion, and things are enlightening.

Contrast this to the Protestant world, where things are all over the place. On one side of the debates, you run into the masturbation-is-healthy crowd, couples living together, and the general idea that the dating world is off-limits to religion. On the other side of the spectrum, there's a huge push for hyper-intentional, kissed-dating-goodbye courtships, where a 45-year-old woman still has a solemn moral obligation to obtain permission from her father before going on a date (not an exaggeration; this idea is widespread among highly devout non-denominationals) and couples must never be alone together before marriage.

The conservative camp seems to be causing the most trouble in Protestant young adult/singles communities, because the massive risk of dating causes men to become paralyzed in a way that prevents them from initiating relationships. When relationships do fail, the breakup of the couple ends up tearing rifts in established communities, because the dating relationship was given far too much importance by the couple's friends and acquaintanceship.

Consider all sorts of other awkward outcomes that Catholics seem to avoid (the pastor's wife, spouses who want to be full-time foreign missionaries, being censured by the church elders...), and our Catholic world of relationships begins looking downright simple. Because we already understand the purpose of sex and the meaning of marriage, the vast majority of us are able to get by without inventing more layers of social structures and more "rules".

[/quote]

And we're also responsible for the Lindburgh baby kidnapping.


#11

You hit the nail on the head with the part I bolded above.

A lot of times when people say they were never told what the church teaches, they may have heard it but weren’t open to listening to it, weren’t mature enough to process it, or simply shut it out because they didn’t want to know.

I went to Catholic school from K-8, and I can tell you that a lot of what I learned, I had to be reminded of over and over again before it sunk in. I believe in my case it was an issue of maturity. How are you supposed to “get” transubstantiation and the real presence from hearing it through 8th grade? Yet they only had me until 8th grade, so I guess it was my first “shot” and I needed a booster every now and then. I am happy to say that now at 44 (okay it happened earlier…) I “get it”.

Now, mix the immaturity with something personal like someone’s intimate life, and there’s even more of a “tough sell”. It takes time, and many conversations, to get this info across.


#12

I think there may be more to this than just Catholic and Protestant views on sexual education. It seems to be that much of the divergence in opinion is a geographical factor not a theological one. Being an Australian, I find it difficult to relate to most American Catholics and Protestants due to a difference in culture more than anything. Does dating and sexual education differ vastly across culture? I can’t say that I’ve seen Theology of the Body Centers around where I live (nor heard of them). Sounds a bit melodramatic to me.


#13

I work as a PA in OBGYN and have seen WAY TOO MANY teens lately who are pregnant or with multiple STDs. so far my youngest has been 14 (and unfortunately those kids are not rare)! My kids attend Catholic school, but the oldest is only in 1st grade. We have a family friend in 7th grade who said there is SUPPOSED to be a health class in 8th gr taught by the principal but it never really gets done. I have been doing a lot of research of Theology of the Body for Teens and chastity.com site linked here. I really like how they teach the concepts about sex. The focus is not one of abstinence (meaning that sex is forbidden), but more on chastity (that sex is a beautiful gift to be saved and used at the right time - in marriage). I am not a teacher, but I am hoping to put together a proposal to teach this material to the 7th and 8th graders. TOB for teens is aimed at high school kids, but from what I am seeing at work, it is too late to wait until then. Kids need to hear this information sooner. From a more personal standpoint, my husband and I have decided to let our kids see us show some forms of intimacy (i.e. kissing) while explaining to them that these are appropriate ways for MARRIED couples to show affection. Our oldest two also understand (on a basic level) how babies are conceived . They are both very intelligent and were not satisified with "God put the baby there" during our last pregnancy. Since DH and I are both in health care, we are comfortable discussing things with them that some parents may not be. Obviously at 4 and 5 we did not go into too much physical detail, but they did get a basic understanding of intercourse and how conception occurs. My hope is that (a) by us being open and honest with them about these topics now, as they grow and need to know more, they will continue to come to us for information, and (b) by our continual emphasis when we discuss these things that they are to be saved for marriage, I hope (and pray) that they will chose to follow that. I waited until my wedding night. DH did not. Although there were times during our courtship (and earlier boyfriends) that I sometimes wished I had not made the decision to wait, I am SO GLAD I did. I am often very sad that DH did not, although I understand that even in our generation, it was not common (especially for males) and today and for my children it will be even less so. However, I continue to stress to my kids (EVEN at their ages now 19mos-7yo) that your body is a gift you can only give once, and never again after that. I hope that is sinks in!


#14

Growing up Protestant, I'd have to say that no, not all Protestants handle it better. I went to a Lutheran school all the way from Pre-K to senior year high school. There were plenty of kids having sex in high school. Not in my friend circle, but we heard of it. In some of our religion classes they touched on waiting for marriage for sex and it was the well-known teaching of my denomination, but that doesn't mean the kids listened to it.

I don't think you can lump denominations and groups together in a Protestant vs. Catholic. It's going to vary greatly on the parish or church, the teachers, the location and so many other factors. I don't think either group does a better or worse job, I think they all just go about it differently.

But, I don't agree with the public school courses on sex-ed and teaching how to use condoms and birth control. But that has nothing to do with religion since it's a public school.


#15

I’ll agree with that, they’ll certainly vary by denomination and by church. However, since the quote I posted used the term Protestant churches, I decided to use the same lingo.


#16

It's probably determined by the area you live in and your (arch)diocese. I've been Catholic my whole life and I have never, not a single time, heard a priest talk about premartial sex being wrong or the sinfulness of ABC from the pulpit. At the Catholic high school I attended, we were taught that something was wrong only if we felt it was wrong and that even abortion was permisable under certain circumstances. Based on the homilies I hear, you have to wonder why anyone even shows up to Mass because everyone goes to Heaven no matter what they do because no loving God could send a person to hell.


#17

[quote="Bataar, post:16, topic:199378"]
It's probably determined by the area you live in and your (arch)diocese. I've been Catholic my whole life and I have never, not a single time, heard a priest talk about premartial sex being wrong or the sinfulness of ABC from the pulpit. At the Catholic high school I attended, we were taught that something was wrong only if we felt it was wrong and that even abortion was permisable under certain circumstances. Based on the homilies I hear, you have to wonder why anyone even shows up to Mass because everyone goes to Heaven no matter what they do because no loving God could send a person to hell.

[/quote]

I don't doubt this for a second.


#18

Oh, I forgot to mention something in the OP's quote. The quote states that Theology of the Body is only useful for married couples. Do other people agree with that?

I've only read a few chapters of Good News about Sex and Marriage by Christopher West. I can't say that, as a single woman, it was very helpful. For all his talk about sexuality being a positive, so much of the book was about what you couldn't do, which is a negative stance on chastity, ie, chastity is defined as the absence of certain behaviors. He dealt with the issue of singleness by reminding people that in heaven, we'll be married to Christ and part of the communion of saints. In other words, "Don't worry single person, you'll be dead soon."

If this is Theology of the Body, I can't say that it's very helpful to anyone but married couples. After all, the message that I got as a single person was "You single people can't do anything sexual. You probably feel deprived, and you know what? You should feel deprived since marriage and sex are so amazing, you'd all be better off dead than to live without it, you pathetic losers."

Yeah, really helpful.


#19

The “theology of the body” refers to the teachings of John Paul II on what he called “the redemption of the body”. Christopher West is only one person who has popularized these teachings and tried to make them accessible to the average layperson. If you don’t like West’s presentation (and many people don’t), then seek out another presentation or go to the source itself. Try reading JP2’s original lectures that constitute the theology of the body. There are a lot of them, but each one is not too long.

I’ve never read Christopher West, but I’m honestly very surprised that this was your takeaway from his writings. If you want to try West again, try his “Introduction to the Theology of the Body”. I wouldn’t expect his “Good News about Sex and Marriage” to be generally helpful to a single woman who was not in the process of discerning a vocation to marriage/preparing for marriage, as single people are clearly not the intended audience. And in the end, West is not the only person who has written about the TOB…there are plenty of other resources available for a variety of audiences.

The TOB is NOT just a list of negative things you can’t do…not in the least. And no, the definition of chastity is not “the absence of certain behaviors,” it is the virtue of loving others appropriately according to our stage and vocation in life. Chastity is a virtue for every baptized Christian, not only dating or married ones.

JP2 actually writes quite profoundly about the vocation to the single life and celibacy in a number of the sermons (#73-86), and his message is far from “you’re better off dead”. In fact, JP2 teaches that a vocation to celibacy/continence is a sign for the sake of the Kingdom of God, and that it is superior to the vocation to marriage. He explains the teaching of St. Paul that the unmarried person is “anxious to please the Lord,” while the married person is concerned with practical matters and pleasing their spouse. Christ lived without sex; so did His Mother; so do priests (including JP2), religious, many saints…this makes unmarried people far from pathetic losers. I really can’t imagine how anyone could think that the Church values married couples and sex more than chaste and celibate single people or religious. :shrug: That celibacy is a more elevated vocation than marriage has been clearly taught by the Church for all of its history.

I’m not trying to come off snide here, but it just doesn’t seem to me that you’ve really been exposed to the TOB, which is a holistic explanation of Church teaching on human sexuality and how it shapes our lives and vocations. We need to be careful to remember, whether we are single or married, that all of the Church’s teachings about marriage, all of the beautiful mystery that marriage is, are intended to point us to the deeper Mystery that human marriage reflects: the spousal union of Christ with His Church. ALL of us are united as one Body, presented to Christ as His pure and holy Bride. Human marriage, even when “done well” only begins to point us to this great mystery–and the beauty of virginity for the sake of the Kingdom helps us to understand it even more.


#20

Even though I have not read them, I’m well aware that the Theology of the Body originated in the teachings of Venerable John Paul II. Thanks, for the link, I’ll read the originals. I actually don’t have a problem with the ideas of TOB, but I have a major problem with how, and specifically who is presenting it, as I’ll explain below.

Actually, Good News about Sex and Marriage is intended to be read by a wider audience than singles currently discerning or preparing for marriage. Only chapters five, six, and seven dealt specifically with marriage. There were also chapters on being single before marriage, on homosexuality, and on celibacy, and on the authority of the Church.

However, I think that some of the problems I discussed (the over-glorification of sex and marriage and the dismissal of the single life/priesthood/religous life seems to be common in the few other TOB discussions that I’ve been exposed to.

In the end, I think the problem with Christopher West’s teachings about chastity to single people stem from the fact that he is married himself. I don’t think that a married person has any buisness teaching a single person (even a single person who hopes to marry one day, as I do) how to live a chaste life. At best, it’s ineffective, at worst, it’s counter-productive. That’s why I stated in my previous post on this thread that the instruction of chastity to teenagers and young singles is best left to priests and religous. A married person cannot help single people, even teenagers, how to have a positive view of chastity and their sexuality, and how to live that in their lives, no matter how orthodox they are or how well grounded they are in the Faith. They can explain the teachings of the Church, but they cannot give advice, and they certainly cannot exemplify this teaching in their lives.


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